Born Perfect

We so frequently believe that those suffering from mental illness are flawed. The Ugly Art Room held a worldwide call to artists for postcards with the theme Fare Thee Well. They define this term as a state of perfection, thoroughly sound, and without any flaws. These are words not usually applied to mental illness. They asked what this meant to us. How did we reach perfection?

Born Perfect - Copy

Diana Ranslam, Born Perfect, 4″ X 6″ color pencil on paper. Prints and other merchandise featuring this art can be ordered here:

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Ekphrasis is a Greek word, that by definition, is a verbal description of a visual representation. In layman’s terms it’s a poem describing or inspired by a work of art or photograph. Although, it seems to be used for art inspired by a poem as well.

The Da Vinci Days has sponsored an ekphrasis show in conjunction with it’s other activities this year. The challenge? Poets were asked to write a poem inspired by one of Da Vinci’s visual works. The variety of visual works to select from was as wide as his work, from his portraits to schematics for machines. The poems were than offered to artists as inspiration. The artists were not aware of the original inspiration piece but created directly from the poem. A copy of Da Vinci’s work, the poem, and the new art work are then shown together. Communion is the result of this collaboration.

The Poet’s Inspiration: Portrait of a Musician, c. 1485

Portrait of a Musician by Leonardo da Vinci

Image via Wikipedia. Click on this photo to find out more about this work.


The Master

I am the Infinite,
I play out My Melody
unbowed by time.

The Musician

A rhapsody arrives,
and passes from His hand
through mine.

My fingers count the notes
and balance them in measures
line by line.

By my devotion and
His grace, our sacred
songs entwine,

that you shall know
His Celestial Symphony,
His consecrated Rhyme.

Carolyn Sparling, March 2017

Communion: Portrait of a Musician


16″ X 20″ Charcoal and Chalk Copies of this piece can be purchased by clicking on the image or at

As I studied the poem, I began to think about the way the music not only lifts the dancer but controls him as well. To remain in harmony with the music being played, the dancer must match his movements to it. If he wants to move differently, then he must seek a new song.

The Da Vinci ekphrasis project showed at Linn-Benton Community College’s South Santiam Hall Gallery. It will show again during the Da Vinci Days at the Benton County Fairgrounds July 14-16, 2017. A book containing the poems and artwork is available. All proceeds from the book benefit the English Endowment Fund at Linn-Benton Community College.


Intimately is a charcoal drawing series of intimate views of the body and accompanying text that explores the ideas and concepts we may hold about intimacy in the U.S. The accompanying booklet grew out of the thoughts about intimacy that occurred to me while I produced the drawings.

Candid Signature

Prints of Candid may be purchased by clicking on the photo

Intimacy requires us to be candid. We show ourselves to another with all our bumps, bulges, and scares – physical, mental, or emotional – bared. We show our imperfection. We unveil how far we stray from the unreachable perfection that society sells us that we should. Intimacy can not be reached when we are not candid.
The soft roundness of a relaxed belly letting us know nothing is held back. Everyone has a belly when they are soft and intimate. What are you afraid of others seeing?


Intimately is also available for purchase as a booklet.


To Shot Down An Idea


How do you represent an idea? I was given the phrase “shoot down an idea,” with instructions that I should create a simplified piece of art representing the phrase. Basically, to create an icon.

I spent quite awhile thinking about what the phrase means and what besides ideas we shoot down, such as animals and planes. It seems to me there is an inherent violence in the statement. That it implies an antagonist and protagonist. Some one is proud that they shot down someone else, or they are angry that someone shot them down.

Glitch USA


Glitch are is a whole new thing I learned about this year and this is my first attempt. I think if there is one thing people on both sides of the political aisle can agree on, it is that the USA is pretty seriously glitching right now.

GIF: Shattered


My first GIF. For this piece I decided to rework a cut paper piece that I had completed the year before. The emotional state portrayed is universal, at some point each of us is reduced to feeling like we will fly apart.


Shattered, the original cut paper version

Culture Jam: Cheerios

A culture jam basically consists of taking a product and changing it up to draw attention to some issue the artist is interested in. Deadios is my first attempt at not only a culture jam but in using Photoshop to extensively alter a photo.

With this project I wanted to draw attention to the healthy myth surrounding Cheerios. This product has long been sold as a healthy breakfast choice when in reality it is a bowl full of refined, simple carbohydrates and the flavored varieties contains more sugar in one serving than the daily recommended daily allowance. I also wanted to bring attention to the decline in pollinators and industrial agriculture’s role in that process. This project was completed before Cheerios recent goodwill campaign of distributing “wildflower” seeds (please check the package contents as some of the seeds may be illegal to plant in your state as they may contain invasive species that have been banned.)

It took rather longer to complete than expected, especially with a decent bout of the flu slowing me down, so the back of the box was never attempted but I’m quite happy with how the front turned out.